Disabling shared calendars & alerts on iPhone & iOS

I recently moved from using the Microsoft Exchange sync capability with Google Apps to IMAP, CardDAV, and CalDAV due to some bugs I was hitting. But this meant that all of the shared calendars began firing off alerts for my phone.

Turns out Google offers a page that allows you to toggle which calendars sync with your phone.

  1. Go to https://www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect
  2. And then select which calendars you want to display.
  3. Save the changes.

Once that is done, open up the calendar app on your iPhone or iOS device and go to the screen where it shows the list of calendars. You should only see (and receive alerts) for the calendars selected previously.

The started a simplified home tech life

An new iPad (3) in hand, I am beginning an experiment to simplify my home computing life: go without using my home computer for two weeks and still do all of my needed computing tasks.

The reason is straight forward: as the iPad gets more and more amazing software, there is less and less computing tasks that requires a home computer. I have a smaller amount of time to do my home computer tasks than I used to, thus I need to do them in ways that are easy and efficient.

I am also simplifying my entertainment needs. I am selling my PlayStation 3 as it collects dust and as I realize that I get just as much if not more entertainment playing $0.99 iPad games compared to $60 PS3 games.

What else can I do to simplify my home tech life? That is something I hope to explore in the next few weeks, with a series of blog posts written on my iPad or iPhone (just like this blog post).

The future of computing: iPad review

I am writing this review tonight on my brand new 32GB iPad while watching the Red Sox and Yankees opening night game on TV. For the rest of the week I am going to try using the iPad as my home computing device. How much can I do of my normal home computer routine without pulling out my MacBook?

I suspect much of it. The iPad is that good.

Browsing through my Google Reader feeds is effortless on this device and quick. Reading and responding to email is quick and easy. Browsing and using the various web sites I often go to is like literally touching the internet with my fingertips. Watching a video, whether it is on Youtube or streaming Netflix is amazing with this screen. I can get the latest best selling book or a classic public domain book. The text rendering is great and I haven’t experienced any eye fatigue.

All of this without an overheating and clunky laptop on my lap. I instead just have an insanely thin and solid device to work with. A touchscreen that is a joy to use. Absolutely beautiful applications. This is what a computer should be: easy, fast, and enjoyable. Years of supporting people who don’t get all of the arcane computer concepts shows me this is a device for them as well as us geeks.

I can honestly say that I can see this device replacing a laptop for many people. Right now I am wondering if my next computer purchase should be a desktop. It is that good. There are times when a laptop is still called for. I know I wouldn’t want to type a book on this. I know I can’t do my job on this device. I know that it has limited multitasking. I sure wouldn’t want to rip a DVD if that were even possible.

Man it is fun to use though. When I am home, I just want a fun and efficient computer to use. This does that perfectly. The future of computing is now.

Why I pre-ordered the iPad

Friday morning (after a slight hitch with a gift card) I ordered a 32GB iPad (Wi-Fi only). I am sure some of you are wondering why I threw down $599 on a tablet device that maybe 30 journalists have touched for 15 minutes apiece. Here are my reasons.

As far as cost goes, it actually costs me out of pocket not that much. I had a gift card from my employer that covered the vast majority of the purchase. How I had the will power to not spend it to now? Even that amazes me.

The light went off in my head after the iPad was announced on exactly the type of scenario where I would use the iPad heavily. Every day when I come home from work, I usually sit down on the couch and catch up on any RSS feed reading I hadn’t done during the day, catching up on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Right now I either use my iPhone or I grab my laptop. With an iPhone, it is much more suited for quick tasks not for a hour of reading and surfing the Internet. The laptop however is overkill for this task: short battery life, very little need for a keyboard in most cases, hard for me to be comfortable using it. I also typically only do one or two tasks at a time during this time period anyways, barely multitasking.

I held a book roughly the dimensions of an iPad to see how it may be for these types of situations. Was I comfortable? Could I easily do the touch motions that I can do on an iPhone? It truly seemed perfect.

Speaking of books, another reason for this is I really want to do heavy reading again. One of my big skills is how fast I can read, I have been known to finish 400-500 page books easily in one day. Buying books results in lots of clutter in our small place. I also will be doing some traveling for work reasons this year, so I want a device I can easily carry with some books for these trips. Consolidating these books onto one small device sounds perfect to me. I could also see an argument for not bringing my laptop along on some trips. Depends on where I am going, but it is certainly a possibility.

Finally, obviously I have 100% confidence in the UI. Apple almost never messes up the UI, especially lately. Their development tools do a great job at getting 3rd-party developers to follow along with their UI design. I am exited to see what applications are created for the iPad. I can’t wait for example to see what someone pulls off with a genealogy application. That could be stellar for research purposes.

I am really looking forward to April 3rd. Hopefully it goes as I think it will!

A computer for most of us

I am really excited about the Apple iPad that was announced a few days ago. It seems like it would solve a lot of computing issues not just for me, but most every day people who aren’t computer experts. This appears to be the first computer that I would feel absolutely comfortable with my grandmother to use, yet powerful enough for me to use it often.

In the morning before I go to work or in the evening when I am relaxing, there is very few times where I do a lot of typing. During these times, my predominate use of my Macbook is for browsing the web, reading Google Reader, checking Facebook & Twitter, and checking my e-mail. Most of my e-mail replies are a couple sentences long at most.

Some times I do this on my iPhone, which works well at these tasks. For me, the iPhone is great for a quick run through of that list above, but not good if I spend more than 10-15 minutes doing this. The iPhone’s battery drains fast, the screen is too small to do a ton of reading, there is a loss of flexibility many of the dedicated apps for these purposes not having all the functionality I may need.

When I do it on my Macbook, I gain the most functionality, but I lose the simplicity and efficiency of the iPhone approach. I get a bigger screen, the ability to type incredibly fast with keyboard shortcuts, better battery life, the ability to run many applications at the same time. There is a price for this though. I easily get distracted with many applications running at the same time. The applications can be incredibly complex, buggy, and unwieldy at times, some with code bases that date back 20 years or more. I would argue that laptops themselves are bulky (even the traditionally very thin Apple laptops) and can have heat issues that can make using one uncomfortable.

How do I see the iPad solving these issues? By taking the best of both approaches.

The iPad gets the bigger screen but still extremely portable, as thin as many books or a new notepad. I can just hold it with my hands, not resting it on my lap. I gain the huge speed and simplicity benefits of an iPhone like touchscreen interface, yet with the bigger screen the applications can be more complex if needed like their laptop cousins. There isn’t the heat issues, the battery is far better than any laptop (10 hours),  a faster processor than phones that doesn’t have to worry about handling the complex desktop Operating Systems like laptops. There is even accessories so I can do camera imports and manage them on the device.

For those morning and evening browsing sessions that I do nearly every day, the iPad would be perfectly suited for them. Of course there will be tasks that my laptop with a full desktop OS would be better suited for. As beautiful as the new iWork apps are for the iPad, I wouldn’t want to work on a complex spreadsheet on it from scratch. I wouldn’t write this long blog post on an iPad (unless I used the keyboard accessory…hmm). Managing my music and video collections will still need that computer, as they would have a tough time fitting on even a 64GB iPad. Plus I don’t even know if an iPad can sync its library with an iPhone yet.

That is not even getting into the added benefits the iPad gives to common people, like:

  • Security: there hasn’t been one virus or high-profile security breach for iPhones (excluding jailbroken ones). This is despite the iPhone being an obvious target for hackers given its dominance.
  • App Store: one stop shop to finding applications, applications get updates easily, and reviews to know the apps are good or not.
  • No multitasking: What? A feature? For those who get easily confused about multiple apps running, sucking CPU and battery life, this is a feature. It took months for one family member of mine to realize that they should quit applications instead of just closing their windows and leaving them running. My grandparents have a hard time keeping track of one application, never mind 5. Keep it simple. In the end, I bet limited multitasking will be introduced, but not until Apple gets it right.
  • Flexibility: Apps make this device work far longer than any computer would normally last. Those special digital photo frames you can buy? Get an iPad, dock, and it doubles as one when you aren’t using it. Plus higher quality display and more storage.

I predict that the iPad will become the computer of the future for the common people, while being a valuable companion for geeks who really do not need to use a full desktop computer every time they need their Internet fix. I know I will be in line for one, my mother is also wanting one too.